BRANSON, Mo. — The fallout from flooding in the Ozarks appears to be never-ending.
Flash flooding at the end of April did widespread damage in southwest Missouri, but a second event in Branson, over Memorial Day weekend, swept 11 cars into Lake Taneycomo.
Eight of those cars are believed to be from Fall Creek Motors, located on Highway 165. The owners of the other three cars have yet to come forward.
“Originally, when the cars went in, we had a lot of high water,” says Dave Welch, owner of Dave’s Guide Service, “so they weren’t really a factor.”
“But now, when [the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers] started turning it down [generation] in the mornings,” he says, “it’s become a problem.”
Welch has been taking people out on Lake Taneycomo for more than 27-years and up until recently, obstacles really weren’t an issue. But now, next to Fall Creek Marina, it’s a bit of a mine field.
“I drifted into [a car] the other day about threw everybody out of the boat,” Welch says, “I got busy netting fish.”
Some of the cars are easily visible, others are marked by buoys, but most are hidden underneath the surface of the water.
While the owners of three of the cars haven’t come forward, it’s known that eight of the cars traveled at least a mile down Fall Creek.
“[It’s] a small creek,” says Taney County Emergency Management Director, Chris Berndt, “…getting bounced down a small creek before they end up in Lake Taneycomo.”
Berndt says that area along 165 rarely causes issues during heavy rain events, but the flash flood in May turned the small creek into a roaring river.
“I think it just points out again, this whole thing about a car being swept off by water,” he says. “A lot of people think it can’t happen.”
Berndt has concerns about oil and gas leaking from the cars that are in the water. Missouri’s Department of Natural Resources says absorbents will be used during the recovery process but right now, its biggest concern is safety.
The owner of Fall Creek Motors, who couldn’t speak with KOLR 10 on camera Tuesday, says insurance won’t cover the recovery so he will foot the bill himself. The cost will be on top of the price of the eight lost cars, which he estimates to be worth over $100,000.
While an official recovery date hasn’t been set, he believes the removal will happen soon. DNR has filed a report with the Corps in hopes of dropping the lake level this weekend.
“I’m more concerned with the people that don’t know they’re there,” says Welch. “They come hauling up through here and can hit these things.”